The Constitutional Bench Supreme Court of India on 6 May 2014 held that prior sanction is not required from the government to probe the senior bureaucrats on corruption charges. The decision also included officers above the rank of Joint Secretary. In its direction the apex court said that there cannot be any discrimination at times when it comes to prosecuting a Criminal Act.
The apex court in its observation termed that there can be no protection to corrupt public servants by terming Section 6A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act (DSPEA) as invalid and unconstitutional. The Section 6A provides prior sanction for the CBI to prosecute senior bureaucrats in corruption cases.
The court in its findings said that the status of bureaucrats is of no relevance to the offence under the provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA). It also observed that the protection of prior approval for probing graft charges against officers at level of joint secretary and above has propensity of shielding corrupt.
The decision of the Supreme Court came on the petition of the BJP leader Subramanian Swamy against the section 6A of the Delhi Police Act and argued that it discriminates while investigating a senior or junior officer. He filed his first petition in this regard in 1997 and later in 2004 the similar petition was filed by an NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL).
The five-judge Constitutional Bench was headed by Chief Justice RM Lodha and included Justice AK Patnaik, Justice SJ Mukhopadhaya, Justice Dipak Misra and Justice FMI Kalifulla. They held that the Section 6A of Act is invalid and it violates Article 14 of the Constitution of India.
The case was referred to the Constitutional bench of Supreme Court on 4 February 2005, when the petitions came up for consideration. The bench on that day thought that the matter deserved to be heard by a larger bench.
Article 14 of Constitution of India
Article 14 is covered under Fundamental Rights and states Equality before the Law. It says that the State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.
Writ Petition (Civil) No. 38 of 1997 Dr. Subramanian Swamy Vs. Director, Central Bureau of Investigation & Anr.
Background of Section 6-A
Section 6-A was inserted in the DSPE Act. In 1993, Vineet Narain approached this Court under Article 32 of the Constitution of India complaining inertia by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in matters where the accusation made was against high dignitaries. The necessity of monitoring the investigation by this Court is indicated in paragraph 1 of the judgment.
When: 6 May 2014